We have frequently emphasized the importance of situational awareness as the key component of personal security whether at home or overseas. We have discussed various levels of awareness and discussed when to raise our level of awareness such as during arrivals and departures, when entering known danger areas and so forth. It’s also important to mention the importance of being present and at those key times when we need to raise our level of awareness we need to be acutely aware of what is going on Now. Gavin de Becker (author of The Gift of Fear) discusses this fairly extensively in his book Just 2 Seconds which discusses the dynamics of attacks – in particular attacks on public figures.
While Just 2 Seconds is a book geared towards close protection specialists there are some very valuable take-aways about the dynamics of an attack and ways of detecting and responding to it that are useful across the spectrum of personal protection and security. The need to be able to focus on the present is one of the most useful.
As we have said before – constant one hundred percent vigilance is exhausting and probably actually detrimental. The important thing is to maintain a reasonable level of awareness at all times when in public areas and have the ability to ratchet it up when circumstances require it. At those key times you should not be thinking about your plans for later that day, not thinking about what happened last night, not checking emails or text messages but rather be totally focused on your surroundings and in particular on the people in your surroundings. There are several things (to include an conducting an internal narrative) you can do to assist in this process but one that de Becker recommends assessing people in the area and choosing your “best suspects” – i.e. those who are most likely to present a threat. Of course most of the time – those “best suspects” will be completely harmless and innocent of any bad intentions. This will however force you to focus on other people in your environment and assess their behavior. Notice I said “focus” and not “fixate” – you don’t want to linger too long on anyone individual but rather continually scan the area and come back to a person who may be exhibiting any anomalies or behavior that could be a concern.
Like any other activity this requires practice to make it a habit but consider employing it – especially at those key times when you may be most vulnerable to being the victim of a crime or some type of targeted violence.